For a fifth straight meet, the Tennessee swimming and diving team is preparing to face a ranked opponent.
This time, the Vols will be on the road as they travel to the University of Louisville to compete against the No. 13 men and the No. 11 women in a dual meet Thursday afternoon.
Tennessee has faced Louisville every season for the last five years. This season, the Lady Vols won three meets in a row before losing the last two, while the men have only won once in the last five meets against the Cardinals.
Tennessee’s men (4-1, 2-0 SEC) are off to a strong start and ranked No. 1, and the Lady Vols (4-1,1-1 SEC) just earned a sweep over ranked competition and come in at No. 12.
Tennessee head coach Matt Kredich understands the challenge that Louisville will provide for his team.
“We get a chance to really focus for a day on competing against Louisville, who has been one of the best teams in the country consistently for many years now,” Kredich said.
This meet will be the last one for the Vols until they host the Tennessee Invitational Nov. 30 to Dec. 2, but Kredich sees this as just another opportunity for his swimmers to get better as the spring season approaches.
“Ultimately, our goal is to be great at the end of the season,” Kredich said. “We will try to learn as much as we can from this meet by watching video, reviewing races and having strategy sessions.”
This meet will be very similar to the double-dual meet the Vols hosted against Kentucky and Indiana last Friday, according to the Vols coach.
“We will see a lot of people swimming the same events against Louisville … and then maybe some carrying a little more fatigue and some carrying a little less fatigue into it, but the goal really is to sharpen up the races,” Kredich said.
For the diving team, the Tennessee men stand out compared to the Cardinals' roster.
Tennessee boasts two of the top divers in the country in Liam Stone and Colin Zeng, both top-10 finishers from the NCAAs last year.
Louisville does not have a diver from those championships, but diving coach Dave Parrington understands that this is another chance for improvement.
“We are always working on something, and every single meet is a stepping stone toward the championship season,” Parrington said.
Liam Stone, the SEC Diver of the Year last season, is off to a slow start this year, but Parrington thinks he will return to form soon.
“Coming off of an extended break after the summer, he’s not quite where he needs to be but not far off,” Parrington said.
On the women’s side of the competition, Louisville sophomore diver Molly Fears qualified and competed in the NCAAs last year to conclude her freshman season.
Fears finished 34th overall in the 3-meter event (280.20).
“On the women’s side, there is a lot more competition from Louisville,” Parrington said. “They (Louisville) have a young lady that did pretty well at the NCAAs last year, and it is always a little tougher walking into the opposing school’s pool.”
Tennessee will try to pick up rare wins at Louisville Thursday. The meet begins at 2 p.m.
“We know we are going to get a great meet from them (Louisville), and our goal is to compete as well as we can there, too,” Kredich said.